Traditionally, kochu shaak is cooked with Ilish macher matha or Hilsa fish head, but another variant of Kochu shaak preparation that is popular among Bengalis is kochu shaak cooked with shrimps. In my maternal home, everyone is gaga for kochu shaak. Though ours was not a traditional joint family, but all the brothers of my father lived next to each other in the same plot. As a result, we grew up as a very close-knit family. Whenever there was something exotic cooked at anyone's home, my aunts or my mother would make sure to share it among each other. Kochu shaak was one such decadence everyone would like to celebrate. Of all the kochu shaak preparations, my mother's one I liked best. She made this dish so tasty that I could eat one plate full of rice only with this dish by my side. It tastes nice with roti too, but I think it tastes its best when accompanied with rice.
Kochu shaak is not available in all the Indian grocery stores here, especially, in the part of USA we are staying now. We searched in every nook and cranny before laying our hands on kochu shaak, some 60 miles away from our place, and so naturally the joy was beyond description. I tried to emulate my mother's version of kochu shaak dish, and it came out really nice. My husband was totally drooling over it.
However, before you go ahead with this preparation, remember to have plenty of time in your hand because this dish calls for an hour or more time of devotion to bring the richness.
Ingredients: Cooking time: 1 hr. 10 minutes
ü 8-10 leaves of Kochu shaak (finely chopped)
ü 80 gm of cholar daal or Bengal gram dal (soaked for 4-5 hours and then ground into paste)
ü 200 gm shrimps (lightly coated in 1 tsp turmeric powder and a pinch of salt)
ü 2 tbsp coconut (chopped)
ü 10-12 peanuts
ü 2 heaped tsp cumin powder (soaked in water for 10 minutes)
ü 2 dry red chillies
ü 1 tsp turmeric powder
ü Salt to taste
ü Sugar, according to taste (I added 1/2 tbsp. sugar)
ü 1 tbsp. cholar dal or Bengal gram dal
ü Mustard oil for cooking
1) Boil kochu shaak for 10 minutes in the microwave. Discard the water.
2) Heat mustard oil in a non-stick pan. Add shrimps and fry lightly until they turn golden in color. Take them off the heat and keep aside.
3) Into the same oil, add 2 dry red chillies and 1 tbsp. cholar dal or Bengal gram dal and let them sputter.
4) Now add peanuts and chopped coconut. Lightly fry them till coconut begins to change color.
5) Add kochu shaak and soaked cumin powder. Stir in to mix. Cook covered for 5 minutes on low heat.
6) Add cholar dal or Bengal gram dal paste. Add 1/2 cup of water. Cook covered on medium heat until water dries up. Add water again and keep cooking. (You need to repeat the process of adding water and cooking on medium heat till water is fully absorbed until the shaak is cooked through. Kochu shaak usually takes a lot of time to get cooked. I kept it on heat for close to an hour, and then only the desired taste and flavor incorporate in the dish).
7) Finally, add salt, sugar, shrimps and cook again for 5-10 minutes more.
8) Serve hot with steamed rice.